By Steve Kallesser CF
Currently, the US Fish & Wildlife Service is proposing to list the northern long-eared bat (NLEB) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. In reaction to a joint letter sent to the US Fish & Wildlife Service by several SAF units in the upper Midwest, several members asked if Allegheny SAF would consider sending a similar letter, with assistance from the National SAF office.
Coincidentally, USF&WS reopened its comment period on the NLEB proposal just as Allegheny SAF chair Mike Kusko tasked Steve Kallesser and Don Donnelly to draft such a letter. Given this opportunity, we reached out to New York SAF and New England SAF to see if there was a mutual interest in submitting joint comments on behalf of all SAF units encompassing West Virginia all the way through Maine. A group composed of Steve and Don, Danielle Watson (Asst. policy dir.) from National SAF office, Dr. Shannon Farrell (special to NYSAF), Michael Fishman (special to NYSAF), and Dr. James Harding (NESAF) went to work on the letter.
Here are some highlights. SAF offers its assistance to USF&WS to understand forestry in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, and upcoming habitat conservation planning. We reviewed existing literature and concluded that forestry is not a threat to NLEB, forestry does not constitute an additional stress to NLEB, and that forestry has been shown to improve habitat conditions for NLEB.
Specifically, there are three distinct summer habitats for NLEB: roosting habitat for maternity colonies, roosting habitat for males and non-reproducing females, and foraging habitat. Of these, maternal roosting habitat is entirely consistent with managed forests (including at least 2 snags/acre), while male/non-reproductive female roosting habitat is consistent with forested wetlands and riparian buffers in managed landscapes. Foraging habitat is also consistent with managed forests, although care should be taken to promote native understory/midstory growth and/or advance regeneration. While very young forests (<10 years) are not used by NLEB, given the opportunistic roosting habits of NLEB, commonly suggested regeneration harvest sizes should not present a problem in heavily forested landscapes. Lastly, we urge against summer harvesting prohibitions.
The letter was signed by the chairs and submitted to USFWS on August 27. We hope to publish it in the Allegheny News and/or on the NJDivSAF website (coming soon!). We hope that the comments can serve as a resource to our foresters, and show USF&WS that SAF foresters are knowledgeable and willing participants in the management of imperiled species. Note: research for the letter was assisted by Michael Gallagher and Melanie McDermott, who helped find certain papers cited in the listing proposal.